For every great movie, or set of movies, there are an equal or greater amount of bad games that spawn from them. Spider-Man was no exception. The original movie was coupled with a cheesy gamed rendition of your favorite wall-crawler but with poor graphics, a lousy interface, and the most repetitive action I’ve ever laid my game controller on. The developers had the opportunity to change all of that with Spider-Man 2. They failed miserably.
In Spider-Man 2, rather than facing Dr. Octopus exclusively, you are faced with a multitude of foes from the Spider-Man comic books. Among the list of villainy is Mysterio, Rhino, Puma, and of course, Dr. Octopus. The developers were obviously doing their best to add some fresh ideas to the game instead of forcing you to face an onslaught of “common” thugs with repetitive punch-punch-kick moves but they move you through all of it so fast that there is barely a storyline to follow.
After watching a terribly disappointing intro which consists of a shortened down (and changed) version of a scene from the movie, you’ll start out the game with a pretty quick (and simplified) tutorial of how to navigate (swing) yourself through the city with the use of swing points (discussed later). You are immediately put into a situation where you have to chase down a car full of thugs who start a jail break. The chapter ends with you having to chase down and defeat Rhino after he breaks out of the jail. There is nothing fluid about the storyline whatsoever. In fact, the switch from villain to villain between the chapters is very abrupt and annoying.
While the graphics are much improved from the first Spider-Man game, it would appear that the devs really worked hard to make sure that you’d be able to play this game on an older system. Examples of this are the repetitive line of skyscrapers and buildings that, in essence, all look the same. The NPC models are pathetic and drawn with little or no detail whatsoever as far as today’s video capabilities go and they actually disappear after you beat them with your spider abilities. After the bad guy disappears, a health cross pops up giving you that ultra-arcade feel we had from the 80’s.
Gameplay is horrendous within Spider-Man 2. You are given swing points, marked with a web icon at the sides of the buildings which are actually hanging in mid-air by the side of the structures. When you point your cross-hairs at the web icon, you’ll get a “Swing” message. There is absolutely no free-swinging in this game. If you want to web-swing, in typical arcade fashion, you are forced to only go where the swing points are. You are given some free-form movement with the ability to “zip” to a side of a building but the range is pathetic, and in some places, appears to be shut off to prevent you from going to other buildings.
When fighting, you can shoot a web into the face of a thug to temporarily blind (disable) them while you just mosey on up to them and punch and kick them into oblivion. It’s so dumbed down in fact, that the devs also felt it was necessary to provide you with messages above your cross hair letting you know when it was time to “web” or “attack” your target.
To add further insult to injury, you are provided with “boss guide” before every major fight telling you exactly how to defeat the upcoming boss. Truly, this game was made for 10 year olds and not gaming adults.
The sounds and voice acting are equally terrible if not worse. Where the fighting repetition was toned down a bit, the terrible voice acting seems to have been increased. An example of this would be the dialogue when in just about any fight. The same lines are not only repeated within a few seconds of one another but are also said with very little emotion or feeling.
On the topic of boss fighting, you are severely limited to a confined space to fight. When fighting Puma for example, after knocking him around a bit, you are forced to chase him from roof top to roof top before you actually defeat him. Unfortunately, once on a rooftop you are limited to that very space until you manage to bring down the necessary amount of health required to “move on” and chase him to the next phase of the boss fight.
In a freaky sort of way, I think I understand what the devs were trying to do with Spider-Man 2. With the increased amount of villains and the lay out of sky scrapers to swing from, they were obviously trying hard to get rid of the repetition that came on strong with the first Spider-Man game. Unfortunately, all they succeeded in doing was making a dumbed-down “kids” game that lacks any ability to hold your attention for an extended period of time.
Authors Edit: Doing a little online research I discovered that the lack of in-game freedom for this game is limited to the PC version of the game. In fact, most other reviews out there are actually spotlighting the fact that PC gamers have been ripped off by the fact that the console versions are given the freedom to do whatever they want in the game while the PC port is severely crippled.
A note from Activision’s Official Spider-Man 2 Website even boasts: “This time. There is nowhere you can’t go.” Not only are they grammatically incorrect but they are out right lying when it comes to the PC version of this game, which they proudly display the PC CD ROM graphic for.
« Back to Game Reviews